The Peace Corps was a product of the Cold War. A week before the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy observed that the Soviet Union had “hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, engineers, doctors, and nurses . . . prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism.” The United States had no equivalent. Kennedy feared that the United States was in danger of losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the world’s peoples. He believed that a “peace corps” was the answer. “I am convinced,” he said, “that our men and women, dedicated to freedom, are able to be missionaries, not only for freedom and peace, but to join in a worldwide struggle against poverty and disease and ignorance.” Since it was formed in 1961, 150,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 132 nations. Peace Corps volunteers live and work for two years in communities in the developing world.

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